BSNL has always been a target of both the UPA and NDA governments to be attacked and finished. BSNL was formed as a PSU with the intention of privatising after some time. As all know, telecom sector with its huge profit, has always been a paradise for the corporates, Indian and foreign. BSNL stands as a challenge to these corporates for minting unlimited profits. The government company had to be either killed or gradually privatised through disinvestment. In order to achieve this, BSNL has to be discredited, made loss making so that there will be on reaction from the public. The continuous growth of BSNL for the first five years was a shock to the government as well as the corporates. The move of the government to reduce the number of employees through VRS was defeated by the complete strike and sustained struggles of the workers who stood together like a rock. Move to disinvest was also defeated in the same way.
It is at this time that the government intervened and cut the entire equipment procure programme of BSNL, not once but thrice. It was just like sending an army in the forward area without arms and ammunition. Only through a magnificient strike, the damage could be lessened, which at least allowed the company to move slowly forward.
The posting of loss for the last four years encouraged the government to bring their long pending agenda of privatisation to the forefront. The proposal of NITI Ayog for strategic sale of BSNL and MTNL is nothing but handing over the companies to the corporates for garnering huge profits and grab the lakhs of acres of land in the centre of towns. People know how Maruti, the country’s prestigious company, was transferred to Japan’s Suzuki. People know how VSNL, another telecom company was handed over to Tata for a pittance.
The NITI Ayog’s present recommendation is a jerk action, seeing that BSNL is being revived after the joint efforts of the management and the workers under the leadership of Forum of BSNL Unions/ Associations. ‘Customer Delight Year’, ‘Service With A Smile’, ‘Free Night Call’ and such other programmes have improved both service and the financial position. There is an operational profit of about Rs. 2,000 crore this year and there may be real profit from next year. In such a situation, the government will not be able to implement its sinister schemes. Hence the government’s urgency to move with lightning speed for strategic sale.
The workers of BSNL will never allow a VSNL in BSNL. BSNL is their bread and butter. More than that, it is the pride and glory of the country, which served them dedicatedly and sincerely for the last one and half century with out fail. The telecom workers have a glorious past of fighting against wrong polices of the government. They will march ahead in this struggle path with maximum unity and determination.
We call upon all the Unions and Associations in BSNL to close their ranks immediately and come together under the Forum of BSNL Unions and Association to fight and defeat the sinister move of the government to kill BSNL and MTNL. The internal and other differences have to be kept aside at this crucial juncture. It is just like a national emergency for the BSNL and MTNL employees.
Remember how the private management of VSNL, ITDC Hotels, BALCO etc. after privatisation, retrenched the women workers, SC/ST employees and then more than half of the employees on one pretext or other, pushing them to the crowd of the crores of unemployed in the country. Some of them even committed suicide without finding themselves unable to maintain their families. All the assurances were broken and the workers were thrown to the steets.
Do we in BSNL want such a situation? NO! We will fight and defeat the ugly monsters who wants us to be thrown to the streets. Let each and every worker come under the mighty Forum to save BSNL and save their own future!
UNITY FOR STRUGGLE !
STRUGGLE FOR UNITY !
UNITY AND STRUGGLE TO DEFEND BSNL AND OUR EXISTENCE !
The Magnificent Five days Strike of telecom workers from 19-051995.
The 4.5 lakh of telecom workers throughout the country by their magnificent response to the strike call given by the Federations, demonstrated their strong opposition the ill-motivated privatization of this vital telecom sector and their firm determination to defeat the same.
The National Telecom Policy (NTP- 1994) announced by the Government in the Parliament on 13th May 1994 envisaged that companies registered in India will be allowed to operate basic telecom services. Till now, only government was operating thee services being its monopoly. The condition that these companies should have experience of operating 5 lakh telephones made it compulsory for them to have collaboration with the MNCs, since no company in India had the experience, since telecom was the monopoly of the Department of Telecom.
The DOT violated all norms by giving Letter of Intent to a MNC, US WEST, to start pilot projects in four districts of T.Nadu, even before the tenders were opened. By another order, the CGMs of Telecom Circles were asked to allot spaces in offices/exchanges for private companies on request. The assurance given to the staff by former Communications Minister, Rajesh Pilot, that they will be consulted before any decision taken on privatization was violated.
The withdrawal of the strike to start from 17th April 1994 against privatization, by the three Federations was a set-back in the fight against privatization and it helped the management to move ahead. However, the formation of the Door Sanchar Sangharsh Samiti at the initiative of the E.III Union with other like-minded unions, the All India Convention against telecom privatisation held in New Delhi on 20th April 1995 and the State level conventions and other campaign programmes organized by the DSS were able to educate the workers about the looming danger and mobilize them for struggle. It compelled the 3 Federations to come to the struggle programme and decided for the Indefinite Sit-in-Strike from 19th May 1995.
The government as part of threatening the employees directed the State Governments to invoke the drastic Essential Service Maintenance Act (ESMA) to tackle and punish the striking works. But it did not have much result. The Central Government declared the strike as illegal on 17-05-1995. It also asked the state government to declare telecom services as Essential Services. The many state governments implemented the above directions. But the Left governments of Tripura and W.Bengal refused to implement the central directions and instead asked the centre to withdraw the NTP- 1994.
The strike was total from J&K to Kerala and from North East States to Gujarat. According to government it was 70%, but the fact is that it was almost 100%. The strike took place both in MTNL also effectively. The services were badly hit in all the places.
In Himachal Pradesh, army was called to maintain telecom services as per directions of the Communications Minister Sukh Ram. In Assam, the Punjab Police who were posted to tackle terrorist forces were diverted to deal with the telecom strike. 144 was declared in many places. Employees were not allowed to enter offices and they were kept out. Army was called in many places in North East states like Nagaland, Manipur. 144 was declared in Chandigarh. In the telecom factories strike was complete with industrial workers are also fully participating in the strike.
In short, the strike was unprecedented and complete all over the country.
Support and Solidarity
In Kerala, the Left Democratic Front fully supported the strike and organized demonstrations and rallies. All the organizations of the state/central government employees extended support. In Calcutta trade unions and service associations held massive demonstrations.
Central Trade unions, CITU and AITUC issued press statements extending support. CITU, AITUC, INTUC, BMS and HMS jointly addressed a letter to Prime Minister seeking an interview to discuss the matter.
10 prominent Members of parliament belonging to different parties viz. Indrajit Gupta, E.Balanandan, G.G.Swell, Susanta Chakraborty, Ramdeo Bhandary, Neelotpal Basu, Amal data, Asin Bala, Shivaji Patnaik, Laljan Pahra, Dipanker Mukherjee and Anil Basu addressed a letter to the Prime Minister supporting the strike and demanding a review of the national Telecom Policy- 1994.
Com. Desararth Deb, Chief Minister of Tripura and CPI(M) leader demanded Communications Minister Sukh Ram to reconsider the New Telecom Policy and also stated that the Tripura Government will not use ESMA against the telecom strike.
The National Federation of Postal Employees (NFPE) gave strong support and called upon its members to strike work for 2 hours on 26th June in solidarity with the striking telecom workers.
The All India State Government Employees Federation, ITI Employees Union, ITI Officers Association and many other organizations throughout the country supported the strike against privatization and organized solidarity actions like demonstrations, jathas etc.
The workers morale was very high and they showed enthusiasm and energy to fight =against the menace of privatization(To be continued)
Door Sanchar Sangharsh Samiti formed.
It is in this context to enable united action that “Door Sanchar Sangharsh Samiti” was formed with representatives of E.III, T.III, Administrative Union, P&T Industrial Union, JTOA, TESA (Delhi), ITI Employees Union, ITI Office Assn etc. with Com. A.K.Kaushik as Convener.
All India Convention against Telecom Privatisation – 20-04-1995
About 2000 delegates reached from all parts of the country to attend the All India convention against Privatisation of Telecom held at Mavlankar Hall, New Delhi on 20th April 1995. The Convention was presided over by a Presidium consisting of Coms. Moni Bose, M.K.Bagchi, Pabitra Chakraborty, Sisir Bhattacharjee, Salim, Manjunataswamy and Naresh Kumar.
Com.V.A.N.Namboodiri,, GS, E.III welcomed all including the chief guests and explained the reasons for holding the convention.
Justice P.N.Bhagavathy inaugurated the Convention lighting the lamp. He urged the workers to be more conscious about their duties and oppose corruption. S/Shri S.M.Agarwal, Former Chairman, P&T Board, D.K.Sanghal, former Chairman, Telecom Board, P.R.Kumara Mangalam, M.P. and former Minister, N.Ram, Editor, Frontline, E.Balanandan, M.P. and President CITU, A.B.Bardhan, General Secretary AITUC, Neelotpal Basu, M.P., Prabir Purkayastha, Delhi Science Forum, Manjunatha Swami, G.L.Jogi, Moni Bose, P.S.Ramankutty, GS T.III, and other leaders addressed. A resolution on the Programmes of Action to be implemented was adopted. The Convention appealed to all telecom workers to oppose NTP and privatization and to be prepared for sustained struggles.
The Convention called upon the employees to organize Day Long Dharna on 05-05-1995, holding of Circle/SSA level Conventions in preparations for the strike and Relay hunger Strike from 09.00 hours on 23rd to 1800 hours on 24th May 1995 against NTP and privatization.
March to Prime Minister’s Residence
More than 3000 employees and officers participated in the March to the Prime Minister’s residence. The procession was stopped by police, where a rally was held. Coms. A.K.Koushik(TESA), Convener, DSSS and other leaders addressed.
A delegation consisting of Coms. V.A.N.Namboodiri. A.K.Koushik, G.L.Jogi and salim(ITI) went to PM’s residence and handed over the Memorandum protesting against the proposal for privatization of telecom and connections of the government and demanded to put a stop to the proposals.
The largely attended Convention and March enthused and inspired the workers for militant struggles against privatization.
The meeting of E.III comrades participated in the convention was held in the Hindu Mahasabha Hall presided by Com. Moni Bose, President. The future programmes were discussed and decided. The meeting decided to continue with the agitation against privatization of telecom sector.
DA and Interim Relief
The Confederation of Central Government Employees & workers called upon the workers to organize protest demonstrations on 31st May 1995 demanding immediate grant of DA merger and Interim Relief, since the report of the CPC is being delayed. E.III Union called upon its workers to fully implement the call jointly along with other organizations.
Recognition of Unions withdrawn
Since the New Recognition Rules were implemented, the recognition of all the Unions/Federations in Telecom was withdrawn w.e.f. 05-05-1995. However, it was assured that JCM will continue and the facilities to the unions will not be withdrawn.
Dharna against Privatisation
As per the call of the Door Sanchar Sangharsh Samiti, massive demonstrations were conducted all over the country on 05-05-1995. In Delhi, a very impressive dharna was organized at Khurshid Lal Bhawan, which was addressed by Coms. K.Adinarayana, General Secretary, P.IV Union, K.K.N.Kutty, General Secretary ITEF, M.K.Bagchi, V.A.N.Namboodiri, G.L.Jogi, Pabitra Chakraborty, A.K.Kaushik, K.Mohanan Pillai, Chhidu Singh and other leaders.
The representatives of the Door Sanchar Sangharsh Samiti, V.A.N.Namboodiri, M.K.Bagchi, Pabitra Chakraborty and A.K.Kaushik met the Chairman, Telecom Commission, R.K.Takkar and protested against the decision to allot space in departmental offices to the private companies. They also protested against privatization proposals.
In the meeting of the 3 Federations with Communications Minister Sukh Ram on 2nd June 1995, the leaders strongly opposed the move for privatization. But the Minister justified the National Telecom Policy and privatization. V.A.N.Namboodiri participated on behalf of E.III Union.
3 Federations serve Indefinite Sit-in-Strike Notice
As per the decision taken by the three Federations, NFTE, FNTO and BTEF, notice was served on Chairman Telecom Commission for organizing Indefinite Sit-in-Strike from 19th June 1995 demanding “Stop Privatisation of Telecom”. This was signed by O.P.Gupta (NFTE), R.Venkatraman (FNTO), Suresh Kumar(BTEF) and Raghubir Singh(Leader Staff Side, JCM). E.III union issued circulars calling upon the employees to fully participate in the strike. The three Federations also issued detailed circular exposing the arguments of the government for privatisation. This was an indictment of the government.
The workers were agitated over the government move for privatization and were fully ready to go on Indefinite Strike. (To be continued)
One Day Sit-in/Tools Down/Pen Down Strike on 23rd January 1995
The Telecom workers through their massive participation in one day strike on 23rd January 1995, have shown that they are completely against the NTP – 1994 and handing over this vital sector to foreign and Indian companies. The telecom will be fragmented and handed ove on silver platter to these MNCs and Indian corporates. This has to be opposed and defeated.
E.III Union took initiative and made efforts for organizing further struggles. But the Federations were lukewarm. E.III, T.III and Administrative unions started massive propaganda amongst the workers and the people. Massively attended dharnas were organized in all centres on 13th and 14th March 1995 successfully.
Joint Letter to Minister against Privatisation
A joint letter by the unions was submitted to the Communications Minister Sukh Ram on 28-03-1995 demanding that the proposal of the government to privatise telecom sector should be stopped.
Oral Evidence before V CPC
The Staff Side of the National Council (19 leaders) gave evidence before the V CPC on 20th and 21st February 1995. The Confederation of CG Employees and Workers was represented by Coms.S.K.Vyas, SG Confederation, O.P.Gupta, SG NFTE, R.L.Bhattacharya, Dy SG NFPE, G.L.Dhar GS, Central Sectt. And K.K.N.Kutty, GS, Income Tax. The demands of the employees were placed effectively before the CPC.
Massive Dharna / Human Chain against Privatisation
As per the call of E.III, T.III and Administrative Unions massive dharna / Human Chain was organized on 14-03-1995 at district levels against privatization of telecom, which was actively participated by thousands of workers. The reports from districts indicated that workers are angry at the privatization move of the government. (To be continued)
Federations withdraw the strike
On the basis of a letter from the Chairman, Telecom Commission, NFTE, FNTO and BTEF withdrew the strike, once again betraying the interests of the telecom workers. E.III Union strongly protested. Branches all over the country sent protest telegrams. Massive Dharnas were organized at all major centres protesting at the betrayal of the Federations.
National Convention on 21st June 1994
The National Convention on 21st June 1994 called by the National Platform of Mass Organisations held at Talkatora Stadium, New Delhi against the IMF prescribed economic policies of the government and the Dunkel draft was participated by thousands of workers from various parts of India. It severely criticized the neo-liberal policies being implemented by the government and decided for protest actions. It decided for one day country wide General Strike and Hartal on September 29, 1994. E.III Union delegates, including General Secretary, participated in the Convention.
Sustained Struggles against privatization
The government was moving fast on privatization. Letter of intent was given to US WEST company for pilot projects in 4 districts of T.Nadu. This was vehemently opposed by telecom workers.
V Central Pay Commission – Memorandum submitted
The Staff Side of the National Council in its meeting on 24-05-1994 appointed a Drafting Committee with S.K.Vyas, S.Madhusudan and K.Ramamurthi to draft the I Part the Memorandum to the V CPC. The separate federations/ unions will have to prepare the memorandums on their departmental issues. It was also decided to demand interim relief and merger of DA. E.III CWC had formed a committee to prepare the sectional demands. The Main Memorandum was submitted by the Staff Side. The E.III Union Memorandum was submitted on 31st August 1994 to the V CPC.
General strike on 29th September 1994
The General Strike called for by the National Platform of Mass Organisations was a big success. E.III Union also gave the call and it was a big success in the telecom also.
Red Carpet to Private Sector to telecom
Communications Minister, Sukh Ram in his Press statement outlined the method of granting licence to the private companies for operating telecom services. It mentioned how to give licences, regulatory authority , pilot project, period of licencing etc. It was a red carpet welcome for the private operators to enter the lucrative sector.
Minister also announced the companies elected for cellular services as follows:
Delhi: Bharti Cellular and Sterling Cellular
Bombay: Max Hutchinson Ltd and BPL Systems and & Project Ltd.
Calcutta: Usha martin Telecom and Indian Telecom Private Ltd.
Madras: Sky Cell Communications and Mobile Telecom Services.
A large number of companies were proposed for private participation in basic telecom services. Thus the map was drawn for the entry of the private companies both in Cellular and basic services.
New Technology Workshop at Calcutta
In continuation of the Workshop conducted at Haldia last year, another Workshop was organized at Calcutta by the Commonwealth Trade union and CITU together on 25-27 October 1994. The main topic was New Technology in various sectors. In both the workshops V.A.N.Namboodiri attended and submitted papers on the Telecom Sector.
Interim Relief, DA Merger
As per call of the Confederation demonstrations were organized in telecom also on 19th January 1995 demanding Interim Relief and DA Merger. The programme was a grand success.
Tenders called for telecom services.
The government was moving fast on privatization. Tenders were called for providing cellular and basic telecom services from private operators. Letter of Intent was given to US WEST company for pilot projects in four districts of T.Nadu. This was strongly opposed by the workers. As per the call of the federations/unions, telecom workers organized demonstration on 17-01-1995. (To be continued)
Further attacks on E.III (N)
Consequent upon our application for verification in the name of All India Telecom Employees Union Class-III(Namboodiri) was accepted by DOT, O.P.Gupta made efforts to take control of Dada Ghosh Bhawan, where the union is functioning. OPG, who has no authority in the building, wanted us, the real owners, to vacate.
The situation became grave after more threats, abuses and warnings over phone. General Secretary, V.A.N.Namboodiri, was compelled to approach Tiz Hazari Court. On the basis of the report of the Commissioner, Tiz Hazari Court ordered status quo which continues even at present. CHQ continued to function at Dada Ghosh Bhawan.
Hijacking of Union Journals
Using political pressure and with support of DOT, both our journals which we were publishing after Bhopal All India Conference, “Telecom” and “Correspondence”, as also CHQ Telephone No. 011- 5701877 were hijacked by the disruptors. We had anticipated this situation and had applied for new journal and telephone.
Accordingly E.III(N) started publishing two journals, “Tele-Crusader” and “Telemessage”. Three telephones – 011-5705385, 5894862 and 5894100 were also got provided. E.III(N) office employees, Coms. Atmaram and Raghubir Singh also deserted and joined OPG camp. In fact, they were waiting for such an opportunity.
All round attack was made on the E-III (N) union by al the dark forces. They thought that just like in 1971, when they could create havoc and succeed in destabilizing the duly and democratically elected office-bearers of NFPTE headed by K.G.Bose and A.S.Rajan as President and Secretary General, they could succeed this time also with the support of the administration and the government. But they were mistaken. The workers have learnt lessons from hard experiences. They were fully prepared to fight and defeat the disruptors. E-III (N) Union withstood all the attacks and continued to work with more determination and vigour. –
National Telecom Policy 1994
The announcement of National Telecom Policy 1994 (NTP 1994) by the Government on 13-05-1994, on the last day of the Parliament session and just before the Prime Minister Narasimha Rao’s visit to US sent shock waves throughout the country. The telecom workers were taken aback. It was clear that the NTP was brought to pave for privatization.
The main declared aims and objectives of NTP – ensuring availability of telephones on demand, universal service covering all villages, quality of service to be world standard, emergence of India as a major manufacturing base etc- are laudable but the method and strategy of liberalization and privatization are nothing short of handing over this lucrative sector to MNCs and Indian corporates.
In the meeting called by Communications Minister Sukh Ram, the representatives of the Federations and Unions strongly opposed privatization.In fact, the Minister was unable to answer the pertinent questions raised by the union representative.
The meeting of the federations immediately held after the meeting expressed strong protest against the privatization move and decided to organize one hour strike on each shift on 23rd May 1994. The future of the 4.75 lakhs of telecom workers as well as the security of the nation can not be at the mercy of the capitalists and the MNCs.
One Hour Strike on 23-05-1994
The One Hour Strike on 23 May 1994 was a big success with full participation of the workers. The success surpassed all expectations.
Central Working Committee at Delhi – June 1994
E.III Union held its CWC Meeting at Deputy Speakers Hall, Constitution Club, V.P.House, New Delhi on 18-19 July 1994, to discuss the grave situation arising out of the NTP- 1994. Com.Moni Bose, President, presided. Com. K.Adinarayana, Secretary General, NFPE, inaugurated the CWC.
A Seminar on “Impact of NTP-1994” was held. Prabir Purkayastha(Delhi Science Forum), S.M.Agarwal (former DG P&T) and union leaders participated. The necessity of opposing the anti-people NTP-1994 was stressed by the speakers.
The CWC decided to observe “Scrap NTP Day”on 12-07-1994 by organizing demonstration, rallies etc. A Committee with Com.V.A.N.Namboodiri, GS as Convener with Coms. Moni Bose, D.Dutta Gupta, B.K.Goswami, J.Renganathan and P.V.Chandrasekharan as members was formed to prepare Memorandum to the V Central Pay Commission which was appointed on 9th April 1994 with Justice S.R.Pandian as the Chairman.
The CWC congratulated the Reception Committee headed by Com. Chhidu Singh, CS, T.III, K.M.Pillai, CS E.III for making excellent arrangements for the CWC meeting at short notice.
After discussion with other Federations/Unions, the following agitational programmes were organized with massive participation:
- Joint Demonstration on 05-07-1994
- Memorandum to Prime minister and Governors on 19-07-1994
- Massive Dharnas at circle Head Offices on 26-07-1994
Thus the workers reacted sharply against the government’s move to privatise telecom.
One Day Strike proposed on 17-09-994
It was decided by all the federations and unions to observe one day strike on 17th September 1994 against the government offensive to sell telecom to private. All preparations were made for the successful strike. (To be continued)
Reverification of Membership in E.III
The DOT on 31st October 1996 ordered reverification of membership of telecom Group ‘C’ employees along with the already ordered verification for other categories. In desperation, OPG and Co. criticized the decisions of the Delhi High Court, Law Ministry, DOP&T and DOT in ordering the verification. He even insinuated Com. Harkishan Singh Surjeet, General Secretary, CPI(M), alleging that this is issued on an understanding between him and Prime Minister to favour Com. Namboodiri. Madness has no limits! In fact, OPG & Co. were afraid of the workers. OPG and NUTE filed cases in Delhi High Court, but could not get any stay.
An Emergent E-III CWC was held at New Delhi on 30th October 1996 to finanlise strategy in the verification, presided by President, Com.Moni Bose. To facilitate the union to apply for recognition in confirmation with CCS (RSA) Rules 1993 (New Recognition Rules) that one of the Chief Executive should be a serving employee, Com. Moni Bose, President of E.III Union, elected at Thiruvananthapuram, desired to step down. The house accepted the same with great regrets, as there was no other course. The CWC highly appreciated the spirit behind the offer. Com.K.D.M.Tripathi, Vice-President, was unanimously elected as the President.
The CWC meeting was addressed by .P.S.Ramankutty, GS T-III and Pabitra Chakraborty, GS Administrative Union. The meeting discussed and decided the strategies to face the reverification.
Denial of Union’s Name
Both V.A.N.Namboodiri, General Secretary and M.B.Vichare applied in the same name viz. All India Telecom Employees union Class III for the reverification. But in continuation of its favouritism, DOT refused to entertain the application of Namboodiri. The application was ignored for reasons not known. And surprisingly, the application of Vichare was accepted. DOT wanted the real union represented by Namboodiri to be out of the reverification process to enable OPG and Co. to get majority with out any hurdle.
Mighty Protest Actions – Telegram Campaign
Massive protest rallies were organized throughout the country as per call of the E.III CHQ, demanding cancellation of DOT’s completely prejudiced orders. Thousands of Protest Telegrams were sent to the Prime Minister, Communications Minister and Chairman, Telecom Commission.
Discussion with Minister on 1-1-1997
The country-wide protests had its effect. The union was invited to talks by the Communications Minister Beni Prasad Verma on 1-1-1997. K.D.M.Tripathi, President, V.A.N.Namboodiri, General Secretary and K.M.Pillai, Treasurer met the Minister and Chairman Telecom Commission A.V.Gokak with other senior officers on the day. The union demanded acceptance of its application for the re-verification. The arrogant DOT officers ridiculed the demand by stating that the union can approach the courts, as was done earlier. The union stated that they are requesting the intervention by the Minister.
As a solution to the complicated issue, it was agreed the union’s application will be accepted as “All India Telecom Employees Union Class III (Namboodiri)”, as per the suggestion of the Minister, thus adding the name of the chief executive in brackets for identification, as was done in the case of Indian National Congress (Indira), when a dispute arose in the Congress party. After consultation with senior comrades and CWC Members available on phone, application to that effect was submitted to DOT on 02-01-1997. This became necessary to protect the organization from being kept out of the verification.
But the DOT was not happy and delayed accepting the application. After delaying matters for long three months, again on the intervention of the Minister, the DOT accepted the application on 11-04-1997.
Limited TU Facilities
The verification was by check off system, though the union wanted by secret ballot. The Federation wanted check off system, where manipulation with the connivance of the management can take place as before. As part of the re-verification process, the time schedule was announced on 03-06-1997. Limited Trade Union Facilities were granted to all applicant unions in order to conduct the verification in an equitable and fair manner vide orders dated 12-06-1997.
The time schedule was changed more than once on request from OPG & co. and other Federations. They wanted time to file cases for staying the verification. Supply of verification forms started on 31-07-1997. The significance of the verification was not lost on anybody. The sustained struggles conducted by us had gone to the workers. The alternate policies and demands which we had raised and popularized have been appreciated by the workers. This will certainly have its positive impact on the verification.
E.III (Namboodiri) in winning position
The workers rose to the expectation. Within 5 days, the trend was very clear. In 9 circles viz. Assam, North East I & II, Calcutta Telephones, Telecom Factories, Telecom Stores, W.Bengal, A&N Islands and Kerala, we maintained an unenviable position with huge majority. We got majority in Madras telephones, A.P., Karnataka, U.P.(East), UP(West), Haryana etc. and largely improved our positions in other circles. An analysis on the basis of the reports made it clear that E.III (Namboodiri) will get No.1 position with more than 35% required for recognition. NFTE and other Federations became panicky. They wanted to scuttle the verification to avoid getting defeated.
They moved various Courts to stay the ongoing verification. They could not approach the Delhi High Court, since the same has already been denied by it. Instead, they filed petitions in Mumbai High Court, Chennai High Court, Ernakulam High Court, Tiz Hazari and Sonepat Courts.
The Sonepat Civil Court issued the first stay. Even though it was a lower Court, DOT immediately stayed the verification proceedings. E.III(Namboodiri) filed a petition and got the stay vacated. But another stay was grant by the next higher court at Sonepat itself. Ernakulam High Court stay was got vacated by us. But the Division Bench allowed another stay.
Thus, the re-verification process was stopped half-way due to continued court cases and stays. E.III(Namboodiri) Union was sure to get recognition as the first union and there was a chance that NFTE may also get recognition as second union. But NFTE wanted to deny recognition to E.III (N) and continue its present recognition status. There was no chance for the other Federations and unions to get recognition, thus losing their present recognition.
Thus the workers were not allowed to select their union through the verification process. The dark forces have won temporarily denying recognition to the number one union viz. E.III(N).
(To be continued)
Disruption continues unabated
Instead of accepting the unanimously elected office bearers with Moni Bose as President and V.A.N.Namboodiri as General Secretary, the few who walked out of AIC, floated a parallel list of office-bearers with M.B.Vichare as General Secretary. Once again, they were at the game of disruption of the union.
The list of elected office-bearers was submitted to the DOT by the out-going General Secretary Moni Bose. But the DOT became a partner in the disruption and refused to recognize the list stating that a dispute has arisen, citing the fake list.
Branches of the union throughout the country reacted sharply and sent protest telegrams to Chairman Telecom Commission demanding recognition of the duly elected office-bearers. The telecom establishments reverberated with slogan shouting against the conspiracy hatched by the disruptors and DOT.
High Court accepts Petition
The wrong decision was questioned by the CHQ through a petition to the Delhi High Court, which took note of it.
OPG Calls illegal meeting of Circle Secretaries.
Once again, OPG tried to misuse the deleted Article 25© of E.III Union Constitution, by issuing notice for meeting of Circle Secretaries again misusing his position as SG, NFTE. This was brought to the notice of the Delhi High Court. OPG was compelled to give an assurance to the Court that he will not hold the meeting. The game was thus defeated.
Verification ordered by Court.
The High Court issued directions to DOT to conduct verification of membership as per New Recognition Rules to decide on the dispute in E.III Union. The request of the DOT for modification (not to conduct verification) was outright rejected.
DOT Orders Membership Verification
DOT ordered verification of membership on 22-11-1995 under check off system as per the direction of the High Court. The time-schedule was changed twice on the request of OPG & Co. They were afraid to face verification, but there was no escape from the High Court Order.
All the existing unions at the time of implementation of New Recognition Rules were granted trade union facilities. After the High Court order for verification, E.III Union led by Moni Bose – V.A.N.Namboodiri also applied. After dilly-dallying for a long period and afraid of court verdict, we were granted limited facilities which were completely inadequate.
‘Neutral Role’ of OPG exposed
OPG, while being the main disruptor and leader of M.B.Vichare Group always propagated that he was neutral in the E.III dispute. His neutral mask flew away when he directly jumped in to the fray and openly canvassed for Vichare group. The NFTE official journal, ‘Tele-Labour’, was misused to slander and malign us. OPG used all his long time influence on DOT to subvert the verification in their favour. Eventhough NFTE was not a party in the verification, OPG used all his influence on the administration.
Irregularities and Favouritism
Finding that the trend was against them and there was no chance for them to win in a free and fair election, OPG-Vichare group started all kind of manipulation, rigging etc. In Maharashtra and Bombay Circles, the verification form itself was changed to help Vichare. Ragging and snatching of forms took place in MP, AP and Maharashtra. Workers, especially ladies, were threatened and forced to vote for them.
Group D & Line Staff allowed to vote in E.III Verification.
In the verification of E.III Union, more than 10,000 Group D and Line Staff , who are not eligible to vote in E.III Union, were allowed to vote. The DOT kept mum; in fact it tactically supported it.
The Union brought all these irregularities to the notice of the DOT, but in vain. As such, a writ was filed in the Delhi High Court, pointing out all the irregularities.
The apprehension about manipulations in membership proved to be correct. The report submitted by the DOT to the Delhi High Court on 10-04-1996 exposed the deep rooted conspiracy once again.
According to this manipulated report, Namboodiri group got 34,646 votes and Vichare group 39,985 votes. While the former was all from members of E.III Union alone, the 39,985 included about 10,000 votes of Line Staff and Group D officials, who are ineligible to vote in E.III Union. This was purposely allowed by the administration as part of the conspiracy to hide the truth that Namboodiri group got 5,000 votes more than Vichare group. Further, while telegraph class III workers supporting OPG group voted, the T.III Union leadership supporting Namboodiri group, about 8,000, did not vote as per the direction of their union. Had they voted, there would have been a very good majority, crossing 35% and getting recognition without any difficulty. But unfortunately, the T.III Union took an unhelpful decision.
DOT, mischievously suggested that the court to grant recognition to Vichare group by adding the votes of Namboodiri group to get the qualifying position by 35%.
DOT’s application was dismissed by the court and recognition was not granted to any group as they did not get the required 35% individually. Once again, the conspiracy failed.
Another illegal meeting and Fake list
OPG again called for an illegal meeting of E.III CWC at Vellore, T.Nadu, which he had no power to call. On a petition from Com.K.Arumugham, Circle Secretary, E.III Chennai, to the District Munsif Court against holding of the meeting, OPG was compelled to give assurance to the court that the meeting will not be held. However, they held a meeting in violation of the orders and submitted a parallel list to DOT. However, DOT, well aware of the Court order, did not accept the list. Reverification became inevitable. (To be continued)
All India Conference of E.III Union at Thiruvananthapuram 09-13 April 1994.
The recognition of Moni Bose as General Secretary sent a clear message. OPG very well knew that once regular functioning started, there will be a big erosion from his side.
Hence, M.B.Vichare, filed a case in Delhi High Court against recognition of Moni Bose as General Secretary. He also issued notice for holding the All India Conference at Trichy, claiming himself as General Secretary. Moni Bose impleaded in the case. The Delhi High Court directed that V.A.N.Namboodiri and Moni Bose as President and General Secretary are the authorized office-bearers to conduct the All India Conference thus rejecting the claim of the disruptors outright.
Moni Bose, General Secretary, addressed letters to OPG & Co. for restoring unity and also to participate in the AIC at Thiruvananthapuram. He also requested to hand over the accounts along with the union funds coming to about Rs. 50 lakhs which was not handed over to the new General Secretary after his defeat at Bhopal AIC. The funds were never made over.
Again disruption by OPG
Failing in their effort to stop holding of All India Conference by Moni Bose, General Secretary, through DOT and Courts, OPG & Co. made plans to disrupt the Conference at Thiruvananthapuram. OPG wrote to the then Congress Chief Minister of Kerala, K.Karunakaran, to depute police force to ‘ensure safety to delegates’. Statements were issued denigrating the E.III leadership. They also mobilized goonda elements to create trouble in the session.
The Reception Committee with Com. Suseela Gopalan, M.P. as Chairperson and Com.P.V.Chandrasekharan, Circle Secretary, E.III Union Kerala Circle as General Convener and Com. G.Sasidharan Achari, Circle Treasurer, as Treasurer with leaders of various unions/associations as members made all arrangements for the successful conduct of the Conference.
The Inaugural Session
The Inaugural Session was to start by 10.00 AM on 9th April 1994. The hall and premises were fully packed. Com. E.M.S.Namboodiripad, veteran Communist leader and former Chief Minister of Kerala was to inaugurate the AIC. Before starting the session, disruptors viz. OPG group, with a well prepared plan started shouting and demanding discussion on the CWC held on the earlier day, before the session starts. They were told that everything can be discussed in the AIC. But instead of accepting the proposal, they started making pandemonium by breaking window panes, throwing and breaking the arranged chairs etc. The Reception Committee members who requested them not to damage furniture etc. were attacked and manhandled. After making the trouble for some time, they left the hall and walked out. This was very unfortunate and not expected from responsible delegates.
After some time, the AIC started. V.A.N.Namboodiri, President presided. Com.E.M.S.Namboodiripad inaugurated the Conference. He spoke about the necessity of the intellectual and manual workers to come together for struggle to save the services and to march forward to progress.
Comrades E.Balanandan, M.P., President, CITU, M.K.Pandhe, General Secretary, CITU, Suseela Gopalan, M.P., Shri O.N.V.Kurup, well known Poet, Com. K. Adinarayana, Secretary General, NFPE, Com. O.P.Gupta, Secretary General, NFTE, Coms. Moni Bose, P.S.Raman Kutty, General secretary, T.III Union, Pabitra Chakraborty, General Secretary, Administrative Union, P.V.Chandrasekharan and many other leaders addressed the various sessions of the Conference.
A massive procession participated by thousands of telecom employees went through the streets of Thiruvananthapuram which was greeted on the way by various organizations of Central Govt. Employees, Postal, State Government employees, PSUs, students, CITU etc. it was a new experience for many delegates from other parts of the country.
The All India Conference adopted the report presented by the General Secretary. It discussed about the various issues and the organizational problems. The Conference passed a ‘Resolution on Policy and Programme’ giving a direction to the march ahead. It strongly opposed the government proposals for corporatization and privatization. A Charter of Demands including short and long term demands were adopted by the house.
The AIC unanimously elected the following Office-Bearers:
President : Com. Moni Bose
Vice-Presidents : Com.K.D.M.Tripathi (UP)
: Com. A.C.Shah (Gujarat)
: Com. Sakunthala Gond (Bihar)
: Com. Gurcharan Singh (Punjab)
: Com. P.R.Das (Orissa)
General Secretary : Com. V.A.N.Namboodiri
Asst. General Secretaries : Com. Debashish Dutta Gupta (Calcutta)
: Com. P.Abhimanyu (T.Nadu)
: Com. P.Asokababu (A.P.)
: Com. P.Appaji (Karnataka)
Treasurer : Com. K.M.Pillai (Delhi)
Asst. Treasurer : Com. G.J.Sheikh (M.P.)
The Thiruvananthapuram AIC was a milestone in the forward march of the E.III Union. It took important decisions as also prepared for the defence of the telecom sector, which was being attacked under the neo-liberalisation policy of the government. It also gave a befitting reply to OPG andCo. who wanted to disrupt the telecom movement. (To be continued)